MADRID (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Vershbow gave a lecture in the Spanish Centre for National Defence Studies in Madrid on current challenges faced by the alliance.
"You may not be pleased with policies that the current Russian leadership is pursuing but it is our neighbor in terms of Europe and the international community and so as I said it's not a question of whether we have a relationship with Russia it's what kind of relationship. And clearly, over time <…> we would all hope to move back to a more constructive, cooperative relationship with Russia <…> Russia can be key to solving [international] problems but it depends on the decisions that Russia makes," Vershbow said.
Vershbow criticized Russian policy with regard to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and added that NATO members should create incentives for Russia to return to compliance with international law.
Relations between Moscow and the West deteriorated over the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014. Western states and Kiev accused Russia of involvement in the military conflict in eastern Ukraine and introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations.
NATO military reinforcement along Russia's western border has also been souring relations between the alliance and Moscow, with Russian authorities saying it increases tensions and threatens regional and global security.